Pitfalls To Avoid When Booking Award Tickets Using Miles from a Different Airline Loyalty Program

by joeheg

When it comes to booking airline tickets, using frequent flyer miles can be a great way to save money. One of the major advantages of using miles is the ability to compare prices across different loyalty programs and choose the one that offers the lowest price. If you have multiple types of transferrable miles, you can often use them to pay even less for your trip.

For example, I booked a flight on Virgin Atlantic using Flying Blue miles I received by transferring points from Capital One. By comparing the prices across different airline loyalty programs and using my transferrable miles, I was able to find the best deal and save a significant amount of money on my trip.

However, by using a different airline’s frequent flyer program to book my ticket, I introduced an extra level of complexity to the reservation. While I booked using Flying Blue, I needed to use Virgin Atlantic’s website to check on my ticket.

Here are things you need to do when booking an award ticket using points from a different airline:

Make Sure All Information Is Correct

Whenever information gets passed between airlines, there’s a chance for your information to get garbled. You need to check that your name is spelled correctly and that it matches your ID.

In addition, you need to check to see if the airline you are flying with has all of your info. In my case, Virgin Atlantic didn’t receive any of my personal information from Flying Blue.

I had to log into the Virgin Atlantic website and put in my DOB and my Known Traveler number. The latter is important if I want to get access to TSA Precheck on my flight from the US to the UK.

a white and red text on a white backgrounda screenshot of a computer

Seat Selection

Occasionally, you’ll be able to select seats on a partner airline website. But most of the time, you’ll be told to go to the airline website to select seats. This was another step I forgot, and because of that, there are only a few seats left in the middle aisle of my A330-300.

a row of seats in an airplane

Flight Changes

I booked my flight months ago. From when I made the reservation until now, my flight times have changed by over an hour. You need to make sure that you’ve updated your itinerary (I prefer to use TripIt to keep my reservations in order).

If your flight is months away, it’s easy not to update flight changes only to end up with a surprise on the day of your trip.

Flight Documents

Virgin Atlantic’s website has a place to upload documents, but it’s a leftover from the pandemic.

a screenshot of a computer

There’s also a section of the website devoted to the UK ETA (Electronic Travel Authority), but US visitors are not required to get one of these yet.

Meal Selection

a red and purple logo

Virgin Atlantic doesn’t offer anything like Singapore Airlines’ “Book the Cook.” What they do offer is the opportunity to select if you have any meal preferences (vegetarian. Kosher, gluten-free) before your flight.

Final Thought

The one thing to remember from this is that you need to be extra careful when booking an award ticket for a different airline than the loyalty program. There are so many things that can go wrong, and it’s up to you to make sure everything is correct before you head to the airport.

If the loyalty program doesn’t complete ticketing your award reservation or if the name on your ticket is spelled wrong, you’re going to end up stressing at the airport instead of enjoying your trip.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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